Overcoming Fear & Letting Go of My Eating Disorder & … Everything Else a.k.a. The-Best-Feeling-In-The-World
Hi lovies! I figured that, in the midst of all the yumminess I’ve been providing you with, I should also provide you with some insight into what overcoming fear & letting go of my eating disorder has entailed (thus far) and how it has allowed me to let go of EVERYTHING ELSE, literally, a.k.a. what I said in my first insightful (I mean, I think it was insightful. I hope you do too…) post about how I was killing MANY “birds” with this “stone” that is ED recovery cannot be more true.
Today marks almost two months to the day that I developed the INSANE willpower to tackle recovery (WOW, that went by rather quickly) (T-2 days). I couldn’t wait until my “recovery-anniversary” to write this post because I just had too much to say (As usual, I know, I know!!!).
I know I already told you babes about the six lessons my recovery has taught me so far. But, another lesson I’ve learned is that RECOVERY IS AN ONGOING PROCESS & MOST OF ALL, A DAILY LEARNING EXPERIENCE. As such, those six lessons have now turned into (GAH, I lost count…). No, but in all seriousness, all this to say, I am and will continue to learn new things EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. as I recover from this beast. And, whenever useful, I will share those lessons with you because well… for one, writing has become a form of therapy for me, and secondly, my goals (WELL, NOT MY ONLY GOAL. MY REAL GOAL IS TO FEED YOU!) are to help you learn about an illness that is so badly represented, misinterpreted and rarely understood by most and to inspire any and all who are going through the same or similar MENTAL (yes, I did just say that anorexia is a mental illness) illnesses. ANYWAY, LET’S GET TO IT.
Recovery has taught me that in order to live a healthy life, I must come to terms with the idea that there is a necessary balance between LETTING GO OF FEAR & HESITATION, but also ACCEPTING THAT FEELING FEAR IS NORMAL & DOES NOT MAKE ME WEAK (It actually makes me STRONGER THAN EVER. In fact, in case you didn’t know, I am Superwoman). This lesson ties into one of the very first lessons recovery has taught me, ergo, that IT IS OKAY TO FEEL IN THE FIRST PLACE, How I suppressed so much emotion in the past is BEYOND ME because now I am a Wakling-Talking-About-My-Emotions-24/7-Kind-Of-Gal & I’m loving it, BTW (JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING).
Just a couple short months ago, both the FEAR OF FOOD (Seriously, I’m not even kidding!) & the FEAR OF DIVERSION FROM ROUTINES & RITUALS dominated my life to an extent that I cannot even put into words (But, I’ll try anyway). When I tell you that I literally ate the EXACT SAME THING EVERY SINGLE DAY, I am being 200% serious. I won’t tell you what my diet consisted of because the point of this blog is not to promote anorexic behaviours or tendencies, but I was eating no more than 600-700 calories per day, all of which were SERIOUSLY coming from the same exact foods EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (Said foods were deemed my “safe foods”, well rather, “THE ONLY FOODS I WAS ALLOWED TO EAT”). I would literally count my berries, frozen fruit & cherry tomatoes to make sure I did not eat more than the day before. I ate each meal at the exact same time every day, not a minute less, not a minute more. And, if I ran out of my “safe foods”, I ran out to get them no matter what. I was legit ON A MISSION to get them & when I did, I cannot tell you the feeling of relief I was suddenly overcome with. Crazy, right?
In addition to the craziness that is counting my fruit & veggies, I weighed myself 928402843928402 timesa day. Seriously, it got to a point where I could no longer keep track of how many times I was stepping on that scale. I weighed myself when I woke up, every single time before ingesting EVEN ONE CALORIE, every now & then (a.k.a. whenever I had an urge, a.k.a. WAY TOO FREAKING OFTEN) & before I went to bed… This was literally a RITUAL. The number on the scale was a validation that things were going smoothly, a.k.a. that the weight was either staying the same or going down (FAST FORWARD TO TODAY & I DO A HAPPY DANCE WHEN THE NUMBERS GO UP. WOW. Talk about progress. *Taps shoulder*), BUT WAS ALSO A SUBCONSCIOUS VALIDATION THAT I WAS GIVING INTO THOSE FEARS EACH & EVERY SINGLE WAKING MINUTE OF MY LIFE.
These rituals, my loves, were VERY DANGEROUS. The worst part is, I knew how wrong they were. I knew how dangerous they were. I knew what they could potentially lead to. I knew I was sick. I knew my life was spiralling out of control by the second. BUT, when something so strong dominates your mind, no matter how intelligent you are, no matter how conscious you are of how wrong or horrible a situation is & no matter what you know and/or recognize, THE FEAR ALWAYS WINS. So, you’re probably asking yourselves: “But, then how does the victim go into recovery & just get rid of these fears so easily if they were so hard to get over while he/she was suffering?”. Valid question, Fine. My ANSWER?: SHE DOESN’T. What do I mean?
Recovery is scary (AS HELL) & even uncertain at times. And, as much as I would LOVE to stand (well, rather, type) here & tell you that it’s been easy… I don’t like to lie. It takes so much confidence, courage and bravery. And I won’t lie, there are times when I’m afraid (Of what, you ask? Afraid that yet another traumatic event will trigger old behaviours, that I’ll respect my meal plan to a T & go into a weight plateau, even though I am eating enough for two & maybe even three and sometimes feel so full that moving from point A to B is literally A TASK, that someone’s response or reaction to my recovery will be so negative that it will hinder it, that I will lose control, that the old fears will come back. But most of all, afraid that anorexia will EAT AT ME (NO PUN INTENDED) again. BUT BUT BUT, I have learned that feeling afraid is okay and normal. I have learned that what’s important is not to actively try and prevent myself from being or feeling afraid (ergo, I no longer suppress emotion – I BURNT DOWN THAT WALL. LITERALLY, IT CRUMBLED), but rather, to accept when I do feel fear and use POSITIVE MOTIVATION to push past it. BEST OF ALL; I have learned that feeling fear (Yes, I actually allow myself to FEEL) & facing it does not make me weak & does not mean that I will fail. I’ve learned to embrace boldness, even in the face of uncertainty & THIS MY LOVES, IS THE DEFINITION OF STRENGTH.
So my loves, what can you retain from this LESSON (Yes, I know, it was long), if you’re afraid of spiders, KILL THAT SPIDER. If you’re afraid of heights, GO ON THAT ROLLERCOASTER. If you’re afraid of elevators, GO UP THE CN TOWER. If you’re afraid of airplanes, BOOK A VACATION (I mean… you’ll get a nice tan, so like, it will be worth it), if you’re afraid of public speaking, GIVE THAT MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH, if you’re afraid of the dark, TURN THOSE DAMN LIGHTS OFF, if you’re afraid of failure, ALLOW YOURSELF TO FAIL SOMETIMES (The next time you succeed at something will feel THAT MUCH better, I promise & I tend to keep them promises), if you’re afraid of dogs, PET THAT PUPPY, if you’re afraid of the dentist, OPEN WIDE, if you’re afraid of needles, GO FOR THAT BLOOD TEST, but MOST OF ALL, if you are afraid of FALLING (NO, not literally), ALLOW YOURSELF TO FALL (Okay, fine, it would be funny to see you fall knowing you did it on purpose) & THEN, GET BACK UP!!!!! (THIS, MY LOVES, IS THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD).
Not only have I learned that it is okay to feel, that fear is normal & that facing it actually makes me STRONG, but I have also learned that in life, it is VERY important (rather, CRUCIAL) to JUST. LET. GO. sometimes. No, my loves, I am not telling you to adopt a “laissez-faire” attitude about everything in your lives, nor am I telling you to become the laziest people on the planet & make your beds or couches your homes (all while going through a Netflix binge & snacking on my Homemade Kale Chips a.k.a. The-Most-Satisfying-Potato-Chip-Alternative a..k.a. Life (UH, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it means you didn’t read yesterday’s post yet. It also means I’m really, really mad at you & that we can’t be friends #sorrynotsorry).
What I am telling you guys is that recovery has allowed me to let go of perfectionism (OKAY, I know… certain things in my life are still perfect, i.e. my pictures of food, OH & MY RECIPES, but I’ve come a long way, trust me… like I’ve come all the way from China, no joke). I’ve always been the type of person who believed that no matter what my achievement was, it could always be better. I literally never felt the satisfaction of a job well done because as I completed one task, I was already thinking about my next achievement. Unfortunately, while all of you sat there thinking my life was so perfectly perfect because I never got a grade lower than a 90, because I got into law school, because I was at the top of my class in said law school, because I passed the Bar & because I looked good in my wedding dress (Oh, how I wish I hadn’t cared so much about this part…Side note: to all you beautiful babes getting married in the near future, F*CK THE WEDDING DIET. SERIOUSLY. YOU DO NOT NEED IT. YOU’RE SO F*CKING BEAUTIFUL), you have no idea what was going on BEHIND THE SCENES (A.K.A. INSIDE OF ME. Like I’ve told you guys before, LITERALLY. ALL. KINDS. OF. CRAZY.). My perfectionism literally created a life filled with disappointment; in other words, given the unrealistic & very high standards I imposed upon myself, THEY WERE SIMPLY NEVER MET. WHY, YOU ASK? BECAUSE THEY WERE IMPOSSIBLE!
Guys, perfectionism literally took m away from the moment because all I could think about was the future, i.e. the next time I would succeed or accomplish something wonderful. My life was literally lived IN & FOR THE FUTURE and that stopped me from experiencing THE NOW (I genuinely believe that this is one of the reasons I NEVER allowed myself to feel pure, raw emotion because facing it would mean: 1) I was not perfect. 2) I had feelings and they were real. 3) I was weak & therefore, NOT PERFECT (once again) & 4) If I allowed myself to feel & faced those feelings, I was failing, ergo, WORTHLESS & NOT PERFECT (yet again). KAY, CLOSE BRACKET). All this to say, being obsessed with being perfect created self-hatred & feelings that I was never good enough, not only for myself but also for others.
Not only did my pursuit of perfectionism create all these horrible feelings of self-hatred & not being worthwhile or good enough, but I also used it as a way to LITERALLY MASK other feelings. Thoughts of achieving the ultimate perfection were a way to push away OTHER unwanted thoughts, traumas & feelings (for example, my mother’s passing). IT MIGHT SOUND CRAY CRAY, but perfectionism literally created a fantasy world for me where I did not feel my own feelings. And this, my friends, is PARTIALLY (Yes, I did say partially, because I do believe my eating disorder developed & spiralled out of control for a number of reasons & not merely one or two causes) the reason why I am typing away vigorously at 6:21 AM trying to teach you about the HELL I have been through in the past (almost) two years. IN OTHER WORDS, PERFECTIONISM IS ONE OF THE CAUSES OF MY ANOREXIA.
SO, as I have so valuably learned so far, in order to tackle this baby that is recovery, it is CRUCIAL & NECESSARY to get to the root of the causes of the illness & to FACE THEM & FIX THEM. But, how does somebody so obsessed with being perfect simply let go of that ideal that he or she held on to for his or her entire life, literally? Guys, it’s not that simple. We don’t simply let go. SO WHAT DO WE DO? (Since I don’t like speaking for others, I will tell you what I did, or rather, what I am doing on a daily basis to use my perfectionist characteristic FOR GOOD). LET ME EXPLAIN.
As I have previously told you guys, recovery is not only about eating (OH, HOW I WISH IT WAS), but is ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. A large part (& maybe even the LARGER part) of RECOVERY IS ABOUT THE MIND. One of the most important changes in recovery for me was changing self-talk, i.e. the relationship I have with MYSELF. I have learned to develop healthy-striving self-talk. ON A DAILY FREAKING BASIS, I am literally talking to myself (as I chop them veggies & make them overnight oats) and telling myself that I am worthy of love and respect, that I can be accepted for my authentic self (Yes, even with 20 or 30 OR EVEN 40 more pounds on me), that I am courageous & brave, that I am strong, that I can eat the plate of food in front of me, even though it’s enough for three people, that I love myself AND BEST OF ALL: that I am Superwoman & that I can beat this thing with a baseball bat, LITERALLY).
What has this healthy-striving self-talk entailed for me thus far? IT HAS ALLOWED ME TO LEARN TO LET GO & this, my loves, is the best feeling in the world. In the past two months, not only have I been able to let go of my eating disorder & the insane cray-cray fears, rituals & routines surrounding (& maintaining) it, but I have also become more outgoing & carefree than I have ever been in my ENTIRE LIFE. I have opened up to the people I love & they have literally told me that I am a different (AND, ACTUALLY VERY FUNNY & OUTGOING PERSON). I have learned that communication is everything. I have come out, on social media, about not only my mental illness, but also about my failure to grieve my mother’s passing (SIMULTANEOUSLY, LIKE GUYS, HOW STRONG DOES THAT MAKE ME?). I have learned that “who the hell cares” if I forgot to weigh myself before a meal (Like, seriously, what the hell does that stupid number mean anyway? It’s all about THEM GAINS now, baby). I have learned that it’s okay to eat EXTRA BERRIES & EXTRA CHERRY TOMATOES & EXTRA EVERYTHING even if it means I am eating more than yesterday (And babes, let me tell you, I increase them calories EVERY. SINGLE. DAY). I have learned that it’s important to face reality, even if said reality is f*caking horrible. I have learned that it’s okay to slip & fall. I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that it’s okay to accept that I NEED help. BUT MOST OF ALL, I have learned that it’s okay to sit on my butt, read a book/magazine/cookbook, self-reflect, CHILL OUT & SIMPLY DO NOTHING. In other words, I have learned that FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, it’s okay to stop EVERYTHING (For those of you who don’t know, I am currently not working in order to focus on my recovery) TO SPEND MY DAYS IN MY KITCHEN, IN SWEATPANTS, HAIR TIED, CHILLIN’ WITH NO MAKE-UP ON (Yup, just quoted Drake, you?) & JUST CARE FOR & ABOUT MYSELF. For an on the go busy-body like me, this has been both the hardest, yet most rewarding thing in the world, BUT IT FEELS SO DAMN GOOD.
So my loves, what can you retain from this? When all else fails, LET GO. Talk to yourself, literally, even if you feel & look all kinds of crazy while doing so & tell yourself that letting go is okay. Accept that it’s okay to feel. Accept whatever feelings you are feeling. Face them. Fail, if you must. Succeed, if you will. Fall. Get back up. Do nothing. Say nothing. JUST CHILL. You don’t need to attain perfection ALL THE FR*AKING TIME. Those who matter will love you & be there for you no matter what (Yes, even when you look & feel like complete cr*p & even when it FEELS like your world has crumbled into tiny little pieces). Those who matter will be there to help you pick up every fr*aking little piece & not only will you pick them back up, BUT YOU WILL GAIN THIS INSANE ABILITY TO PIECE THEM ALL BACK TOGETHER & TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK IN ORDER. ALL OF THIS, BECAUSE YOU LEARNED THE VALUE & WORTH OF FACING & OVERCOMING FEAR, BUT MOST OF ALL, OF SIMPLY LETTING GO. I swear guys, IT’S OKAY. The balloon will fly away. You will never see it again. BUT, you will have let go of something that you were holding onto WAY TOO TIGHTLY & YOU WILL BE FOREVER THANKFUL (Plus, the balloon was about to explode anyways… Catch my drift?).